Posted on

Shadows of the Past

Shadows of the Past
Shadows of the Past

Shadows of the Past

Winter sets in deep during mid-February. The cycle of the year repeats over the century this ground has been settled/worked.. This tractor first chugged along in 1939. The first year of the International M tractor. I need to change the tires on it but it runs if I add gas and give it a jump. It has a crank on the front but I’m not as strong as I used to be. (or foolish). I’ve driven this around pulling this and that on the ranch over the time I’ve had it. Lost a tire a year ago and have to just cough up the cash lol. A big ranch operation takes time and money spent fixing things. 😜

The long late day winter sun throws deep shadow casts on the ice crystal projector screen the surface provides. The contrasts present were blinding to the human eye. Those in and of themselves are unable to behold such a scene unaided by technology. The Icy surface intensifies the glare reflecting into your vision. You instantly avert your eyes to avoid damaging them. Sunglasses would have been inadequate. You can not look directly at the sun with them. Mirrorless cameras have significant ability to turn down the volume on the incoming light. I see the scene on a video screen before I commit to take the image. You’ll want to have a full frame mirrorless before attempting this.

Disclaimer. Do not do this with a DLSR as there is a direct light path to your eye through the camera. This could EASILY blind you instantly. I only use Sony Alpha 7 R series cameras which has no direct light path internally to your eye.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Shadows of the Past

Posted on

Tired of Snowy Sunrises

Tired of Snowy Sunrises
Tired of Snowy Sunrises

Tired of Snowy Sunrises

As I am variously locked out of the backcountry by snow amounts and drifting, I tend to drive the backroads on mornings that are likely to light up. I saw the perspective, skidded to a stop, reversed and set up. I was trying to get that sunpillar centered within the visual tunnel created by the tractor tire. That tire is a “marker” as in, “drive 2 miles past the tractor tire” kind of directions. Some rancher planted this because it was easier than burying it completely. Fill up the inside with dirt and you stop the mosquito trap. It turned into a handy marker.

If I see an old “No Hunting” sign, I’ll stop just for that. Add a Tractor tire to that scene and you definitely got my attention. They on cue a sun pillar lined up precisely with the row of telephone poles running off in the distance. I don’t make this stuff up, I just capture the photons from it. Mother nature and ranchers got together here conspiring to make this composition. Neither party knew what they were ultimately up to I would speculate 😜😜👀📸

Sun Pillars are the result of falling hexagonal plates of ice all oriented flat as that is how they free fall. Like little parachutes they orient and reflect light off the gathering sunrise. The cumulative effect reflects light while the surrounding moisture absorbs it. Sun pillars can form above or below the sun itself. Here the sun is JUST below/behind the horizon. I don’t see a genuine purple sky too much but this one was real. Note no Purple snow.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Tired of Snowy Sunrises

Posted on

Both Sides of the Sunset

Both Sides of the Sunset
Both Sides of the Sunset

Both Sides of the Sunset

A mere 6 months ago, middle of a warm summers evening, a sky show broke out…. THe evening was fairly calm with a light breeze. The air contained some grass pollen, some cottonwood pollen so my nose was a little stuffy. You could feel the relative humidity climbing as the air cooled down. Traveling up and down topography, you could feed obvious temperature changes as you moved from falling and rising air.

Every Once in a while, I like to do one of these vehicle mirrored images showing both sides of the sunset (in this case). It’s a commonality that all of us share. Most of us anyway have occupied the driver seat of a vehicle or two.

The Corriente’ Long Horns were out in the middle of a big grassy I sold this vehicle December 31,2019 . I loved my 15 year companion a 2005 Jeep Gran Cherokee. It worked very well for photography of the backcountry. It would pretty much go anywhere my ATV would which is saying something. The king is “dead” long live the king.

The 2020 Ford Raptor I am breaking in as a photographic platform is performing stellar in helping me find light. (so far) Already it has gone on paths I wouldn’t have taken the jeep on in mid-winter. It is stable, allows some movement inside of long lenses. It has WAY bigger mirrors plus they move out of the way with a button’s push. I will see what I get when the light is worth trapping. So far it gets me there…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title : Both Sides of the Sunset

Posted on

Hey Blue Eyes

Hey Blue Eyes
Hey Blue Eyes

Hey Blue Eyes

I don’t see a lot of blue eyed cattle…. But how often do you get this close? 😜👀

IT was a crisp cool 45 degrees this fine spring morning. Blue Eyed Bertha was enjoying the dew covered grass. Spring growth just starting from the winter dormancy. Every year are cycles. This mother has given us 5 calves so far. Starting to get too old to be sure of breeding, she was “sent to town” this winter. Blue Eyes has made the transition from lawn mower to be part of the food supply.😔

Such is the cycle of things on a cattle ranch. We do sell cattle for beef after all. Trips to town are the eventual result of a calf growing up to a cow living a cows life. I’ve known some of these animals for quite a while. Honestly this gal was a little standoff(ish) and seldom would cooperate with me going left when I wanted her to go right. Some girls lolol.

The 5 years she lived up here were never years of want. She always had food, always had water along with free health care and a place to hang out. There were always things to see, others to gossip with, new places to mark with their leavings. She wandered over about 5 square miles mostly with her head looking at the grass. I wonder if she ever took the time to appreciate the views, the sunset or the sunrise. She never sent a complaint to the management but I’m sure the weather was a concern now and then lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Hey Blue Eyes

Posted on

Longhorn Mother Calf Twilight

Longhorn Mother Calf Twilight
Longhorn Mother Calf Twilight

Longhorn Mother Calf Twilight

Twilight is the time of dark blue and pink in the sky. Spring is the time of the calving. Add the two and you get a story to be told in this Diptych side by side image. (2-20 inch squares).

Corriente’ Long Horns are a hardy group having come over first to the “Americas” in 1493. Their descendants walk down this hill slope in this capture. A solid unbroken line since then. Hardy souls all with very little care required for their up keep. Just standard vet care for cattle. They pretty much fend for them selves but will mooch off the other cattle about if there are any. Last winter my small herd of 32 Corriente were the only cattle on the ranch. Besides some lick and some salt, I only had to feed the 12 Large Bales over the winter. They paw the ground to expose grass similar to how Buffalo do it.

I actually took this through the fence that surrounds our “compound. I had just returned from a photo mission and was closing up the homestead for the evening.. You know, closing gates so deer don’t cross them, putting the chickens to bed locking them into their coop. In the same motion I lock the creatures that don’t need to be in with the chickens out. We have a 8 foot high deer exclusion fence around about 10 acres we live in. It’s high and it’s electric. Not too much get’s through it. My cats negotiate it occasionally. I’ve actually seen where they get through and fixed several places but keeping out skunks is a tough one. I have kept porcupines at bay with my fences.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Longhorn Mother Calf Twilight

Posted on

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up
Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up ( a bit out of season but surely welcome. I’m tired of the ice/mud this year ).

Taken under EARLY morning yellow sunlight adding a colorcast to the entire image. I was just digging the Orange Lichen on the post. It takes a long time (decades) for that much to grow. The old cedar post could be 114 years old as it’s fairly close to the homestead. There are a lot of very old posts in the backcountry. We have 30 miles of fence that I have done some repairs on a time or two. 😜

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.

This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Posted on

Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass
Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

I know this deer as “Goal Post” I’ve watched him grow up since he was a fawn. He is really obvious as he is missing his brow tine over his right eye. He has already shed his winter coat as he’s looking quite well groomed here. Goal Post is 4 years old here from last spring 2019. He will be 5 in the spring. It will be interesting to see if grows much bigger antlers this year. He has never grown in that brow tine though. He just doesn’t have it in him I think lol.

Familiarity of myself with deer is a photographic asset for me. . His herd is one of several different groups I have been able “get used to me”. I have in the past been able to drive my rigs right into the herd without spooking the group. Intermingling with herds of deer is a very interesting activity to say the least lol. I just traded in my Jeep Grand Cherokee they were used to. Now I drive a Ford F150 Raptor (all black) which they don’t know from Adam. We will see if they are tolerant of the vehicle or not. I’m betting that it’s the way I approach the herd rather than the particular vehicle. I do my best to drive up like a grazing animal. Move, stop for a while, turn a bit, move, stop, move etc. rinse and repeat.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands “Wyotana”.

Title: Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

Posted on

Doe Fawn Autumn Graze

Doe Fawn Autumn Graze
Doe Fawn Autumn Graze

Doe Fawn Autumn Graze

Watching families of deer grow up is a pass time sub hobby of mine. This doe and her 4 month old fawn is moving along a grassy hill on a parallel ridge to me. They feel safe with me as I’m pretty much just another grazing animal. The group of deer these two belong to are well known to me. IT’s much harder to tell the girls apart than the guys. A three year old doe looks pretty much like a four year old doe. A year difference in the males will be really obvious. Anter size, shape and neck girth are usually unique in the males. The older battle tested males have torn recognizable ears unique to the individual.

My tracking of deer individuals is of course informal and spotty. I don’t necessarily see the same group every day. I do recognize groups though as they move around the ranch from haunt to haunt. There are certain places that each group will tend to hang at. Not reliably but tendency comes to mind. The exception is their daily trek to water which deer being a creature of habit, cooperate in the summer. I’m out more of course in the summer. NIt’s not necessary to

Deer have a gestation of around 200 days, this is not quite rut when this photo was taken so I’ve giving him 120 days since birth. This is probably a yearling doe as older does usually have twins.

Location: Bliss DInosaur ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Doe Fawn Autumn Graze

Posted on

Reflection over Farm Pond

Reflection over Farm Pond
Reflection over Farm Pond

Reflection over Farm Pond (Magic on the border)

The Belt of Venus variety of Alpenglow enhancing a rising full moon with it’s man (in the) looking back. This was just after the sun set over my right shoulder. It was an orange sky the other direction. Long wavelength red light makes it through the atmosphere to light up on the projector screen that this summer ice filled sky provided. Summer Belt of Venus is way more uncommon than in the winter.

Rising moons will alway have that face upright looking at you. The setting moon that face is on it’s right side. The moon appears to twist as it rotates but that’s an illusion. It’s actually you that twist as the earth rotates and look at the two different horizons for moon set and rise. It sort of depends on how far north or south of the ecliptic (good google word) the moon is.

Getting the Reflections of a Full Moon in the Borderlands of Wyoming/Montana is a matter of finding a lake lol. We are mostly a dry land ranch. A few small ponds near our well driven hydrants are sparse on the ranch. This one is no exception being hydrant driven. A ranch pumps a lot of water. Fortunately a wet year to kept this lake full all year. This was mid summer with heavy due on the grass and twilight skies miles into the backcountry. It was a wonderful drive to go there that morning.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Reflection over Farm Pond

Posted on

Reflections over Farm Pond

Reflections over Farm Pond
Reflections over Farm Pond

Reflections over Farm Pond

6 months ago, In a backcountry far far away… (scrolling text talking about Jedi)

Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…

This little mirrored pond is 3 miles of bumpy two track paths from the closest county road. The county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away.

I find that you “are where you are” when the sun goes down. I tend to levitate to reflective scenes but this I live on a “dryland” ranch. We don’t have any running water except during a big rain. Then we have flash floods lolol. Limited to the gullies fortunately. We did have a 4 inch rain in about an hour during which shin high water was running around the back of my house. So we do get some water dumps now and then.

This lake I have seen run dry before but not this year. We were way above average moisture accumulation. It remains full through totally iced over at the moment lol. (January) . Living in the backcountry tends to boil down life to the essentials. I find that photography, simple is usually better. Wood, Water, Grass and Sun combine for this composition.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Reflections over Farm Pond

Posted on

Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail
Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail (Back to the Summer Farm in the Winter)

I’m easily distracted by a play of colors and shades in monocultural fields surrounded by less disturbed landscapes. The cultivated field in contrast to the sage and grass natural turf. This particular ground has had european man’s stock grazing it for over 120-130 years and probably longer. But before that this was all native prairie. Still some in the background.

Geologic Musings:

This particular alfalfa field is down low in the Little Powder River valley and tends to be flooded every now and then. It’s on a terrace not far from that small meandering river. The river rises (comes down in local vernacular), and the fields flood in the spring. Snow melt and big rains up stream are the biggest causes for floods in this country.

Meanders result from the river moving back and forth across the landscape over geologic time. A meandering river is one that is NOT cutting down into the sediment and the local geology. (River’s Base Level is a good google phrase). It only can expend it’s energy on the sides/banks as it moves across the valley back and forth. It takes a few years to work across a valley lol. There is SOME gradient to this river so the Little Powder seems to be to be slowly down cutting into the valley floor. Don’t expect the Grand Canyon to form in this Climate during our lifetime. One grain of sand bouncing down the bottom down hill at a time wears down mountains over long enough time. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Location: Near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

Posted on

Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise
Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Ranchers work hard in the summer often cutting several square mile fields of grass. The result is to gather hundreds of these 1200 pound Bales into piles. “Hay stacks” literally or more precisely, Stacked Round Bales. . I’ve seen some fairy prodigious heaps of grass before. Large Tractors with grapple buckets pile these three high. There is a LOT of hay in this “stack”. Several local ranchers (you know who you are) just raise grass, some just cattle and most raise both. There are not a lot of sheep herders up here in the high country that I’ve noticed. I know there are sheep operations around the area but most of the ones I know are down in the river valleys.

This was late in the year and the sun was far right of this almost perfect east/west trending Hay Stack. As the winter fades, the sun will slowly rise further and further to the left. Each day it moves a little more to the north as we orbit around the sun.

The green biodegradable netting around the hay is cut away before feeding the bale. We currently have our Herd of 34 corriente corralled and I’m feeding bales. Feeding a bale every 2-3 days, the Corriente Longhorns patiently wait for me to pull it off the bale. I always have to turn my back on them to do it so some day I may get got. 👀😵 Once I’m gone, all heck breaks loose and the pecking order slowly takes over. Everybody eventually gets their fill lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Posted on

Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset
Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

So I’m up on a high ridge for twilight. The sun is down for 5 minutes and the clouds are lighting up with a still blue sky above. I was driving my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV that has 2 bright LED lightbars on the front. I sat down right up against the front bumper in the grass. I brought a 12 mm wide lens but I cropped the image down to the center since the edges were all dark. Only the center was bright enough to recover. I only expose the highlight properly and worry about the dark later. This actually came out much better than it could have.

Photographic Musings:

Close / Far perspectives under low light are rather tricky to capture. It’s takes a basic understanding of the requirement to use Manual mode on your camera to catch an image like this. High F-stop numbers, Long shutter speeds (tricky with moving grass), and perhaps a higher ISO to add a little camera sensitivity. Your priority here is depth of focus field. To get close grass AND the sky in focus at the same time requires you to use that requirement as your first priority. F-stop is the baby here. The other two settings are to get enough light to compensate for the high Fstop (very small hole in your lens to let light through). You have to realize that fstop is a double edge sword.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

Posted on

Drifts Through the Discs

Drifts Through the Discs
Drifts Through the Discs

Drifts Through the Discs

I’m pretty sure that light can not get “flatter” than this but I could be wrong. What I love about this image is the huge number of grey’s there are resultant from that matte screen. This was pretty far away from the gravel / county road out to the ranch bone yard. The drifts between the plowed road and this old plow are numerous and sometimes high and wide. Short Drifts you can punch through, Wide drifts you go around or you get stuck lol

The Ranches “Bone Yard” is a small patch of ground populated with disused antique farm equipment, good scrap metals and old stuff generally. Some of it is serviceable, some of it is not. A little welding here/there, then a tractor and your discing with anything that will pull the thing. There are many spare parts out in the boneyard.

I spent a month one year cleaning it up of mostly wood and old tires which are now buried in a building materials only landfill. It’s taken full trailers of steel from long times past from that boneyard when steel scrap was worth something. I’d get 400 – 500 dollars a load or scrap steel back in the day. There are still a LOT of equipment there that no doubt traces it’s history back to the beginning of the ranch. 100 years of accumulation leaves some interesting stuff lol. I’m thinking that every ranch of any size and length of ownership has a similar “Bone Yard”.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Drifts Through the Discs

Posted on

Spring Bucks In Velvet

Spring Bucks In Velvet
Spring Bucks In Velvet

Spring Bucks In Velvet

I’m always on the look out for framing deer inside of antlers of the foreground animal. A little out of season perhaps.

With all the cold weather coming in this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. The sage brush that time of year is a wonderful cyan/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.

Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Spring Bucks In Velvet

Posted on

Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight
Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight

A formally captured and framed fence brace . I don’t always partake, but a “Good Stiff Brace” at the end of the day is mostly a good thing……. (ie Crown Royal etc). This fence brace was a filter for the deer. The sunset was intoxicating all by itself.

This country is big. I drove about 15 miles out into the backcountry to have this mule deer stay put while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals cooperate… The Orange Twilight was just a foretelling of the sunrise about 15 minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. A rare power pole and line in this photo. I almost never take images with them in the scene …..

From a strictly rustic standpoint, there is a lot of engineering that went into that brace. All those force vectors resolving to shunt all the tension into the ground. They are elegant in their design. The cowboy/fence builder will always use what is handy to act as a lever on that diagonal wire. Diverse items as cow bones, pipes, sticks, boards and anything else laying around is used. What ever you use is going to be there a while lolol.

We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment ….for mid January. I would expect a very long winter as it’s already been a very long winter and it’s still just starting. Live up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Posted on

Lucky Big Sky Country

Lucky Big Sky Country
Lucky Big Sky Country

Lucky Big Sky Country

Here “Lucky” the Black Cat is checking out a well worn mud/rock flap off an f-250 pickup. He no doubt is considering the significance of the statement. I’m not sure what he was looking at. It just seemed like a proper time to compose, focus and click away.

We take very good care of our cats so don’t worry about the temps up here mid-winter. All of them have gone through -30 before in many previous Wyoming Winters. They are 6 years old and have a place to get out of the weather.

A fairly famous scientist, Carl Linnaeus named the domestic cat Felis catus within the scientific naming system. Carl Linnaeus (1707 –1778), AKA with his ennoblement title as Carl von Linné , was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician who formalized binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. The system we use today. He named all the easy stuff done first lololol.

All animals are scientifically named, (and thus grouped with other similar creatures) within his naming system. He’s a good google if your into scientific names to find out they SYSTEM. . It’s one of my weaknesses but I do know the language of paleontology . I take to scientific names like the proverbial peas to carrots…. As long as it’s a fossil 😜. This tendency in ingrained to all students of Paleontology, somewhere along the road during their education. Good to know if you ever want to pursue a career in Paleontology lol

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Lucky Big Sky Country

Posted on

AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet
AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. Over 20000 of the beasties sold in 1892. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.

Reconstructing past lives and events grabs your minds eye coming upon and old homestea. The comings and goings of old homesteads spark my imagination. There was a homestead about 1/4 mile from this location. They had their own hand dug well 35 feet deep and 4 feet wide about 200 feet from their house down in a deep gully.. I filled it in when I moved here. It was an “attractive nuisance”.

Most settlers had to use the water at their windmill. I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind. This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture. Being the only source of water for several miles around, the cowboys drank here too.

This is very big country open back country. Many square miles of grass are attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. Wells were positioned centered in the pasture. This made it accessible to the entire area. A lot depended on the ground water geology to make the shallow wells work long term. (luck mostly early on).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

Posted on

Jeep with Big Plans

Jeep with Big Plans
Jeep with Big Plans

Jeep with Big Plans

Satire mixed with some truth:

I JUST traded into the Ford Dealer, this Jeep Grand Cherokee that served me for 15 years. It served me well. I’m confident it will serve the next owner as well. It would always do anything I asked it to plus basically going anywhere an ATV would. Amazing vehicles if you don’t have a bad neck because they will bounce you around.

I’m thinking that here the old guy was feeling his oats (or perhaps he was just parked in some). The years it has traveled these backcountry roads and two track trails have bonded us in many ways. I hate to see it go. My imagination unfettered attributes many human characteristics to the creatures and machinations that surround me. My old friend, this Jeep, has had his share of human imperfections.

Here he was no doubt thinking that he too, could move one ton hay bales around with this grapple bucket. For a Jeep this vehicle was always ambitious. Kind of like a little Jack Russell Terrier that doesn’t know he’s small . I’m thinking the old guy had too big a plan but what do I know. You don’t want to get bit by a Jack Russel Terrier lololol. That bucket probably weight more than the jeep does let alone putting a bale on the end of it.

The trade is final, I have no control over the vehicle now. Probably never had. It will end up where ever but only when it decides to pick a new owner 🤔

😜 Does the vehicle pick the owner or does the owner pick the vehicle?….. I’m leaning toward the former….📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Jeep with Big Plans

Posted on

Two Backcountry Bucks

Two Backcountry Bucks
Two Backcountry Bucks

Two Backcountry Bucks

I’ve seen these two Mule Deer bucks many times before here in Wyotana. Thick as thieves these two are. Just the two of them for now. A little boys club. They might be brothers. I don’t know because it’s pretty hard without tagging figuring out that first year of growth

Biologists say that these young Bucks necks swell up much larger than this capture close to rut. Hormones take over adding muscle. Taken earlier this fall, this image still has them smaller than I’d like to see (and the does too) 😜. Those neck will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference soonadding more muscle mass for use during the upcoming rut. (Late Nov/Early Dec) The Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.

I have followed these two around for several years. These 4.5 year olds have known me since the beginning by seeing me out on the ranch land taking photos of their childhood and parents. Now they are starting to really accept me as a another grazing animal. I slowly over time carefully approach deer. They are aware of my vehicles and how I approach. The “trick” is that I drive like I’m grazing stopping and stopping. No hurry. Might take me 1/2 an hour to get up this close. I’ve actually worked inside of deer herd boundaries before. Make no mistake these are wild deer.

I didn’t get a chance to intermingle into the herds this year for what ever reason. Everything has to line up just so for a good day of grazing with the Mule Deer. I will see what they do to my new truck that is supposed to be here two weeks before this posts. Running late.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/ Montana

Title: Two Backcountry Bucks

Posted on

Angus Under Setting Sun

Angus Under Setting Sun
Angus Under Setting Sun

Angus Under Setting Sun

LOL, filed under things I see here on the ranch. As I drive around the ranch, most cattle this time of year are VERY tolerant of ranch vehicles. They learn to associate the running engine and the rig with feed or hay. When they get fed, it’s a noisy, smelly scary looking contraption unrolling a bale or two. There is a lot of grass in this field that is still accessible to them though. Keeping herds of cattle in the backcountry is hard work.

There are still bales to pick up this year. Cowboys are still in the process of being gathered even now in Early January where a tractor can reach them. Hay Tractors don’t care too much about snow until it gets several feet deep. We have to keep the cattle out of the pastures the bales are still in. Our small herd of 34 Corriente Longhorn is corralled right now with me feeding them a 1200 pound bale of hay every three days. This keeps them away from the hundreds of bales in their normal winter pasture. We’ll have this snafu fixed shortly. Tough to get it all the hay gathered before the snows.

This beautiful night was calm for the beasties on the plain. Both wild and domestic critters were enjoying the lack of wind that evening. Mid Winter up here in the Wyoming/Montana backcountry is harsh, long, not much sun. It’s COOOOLD when the wind blows. With no wind, I walk outside for quite a while in a t-shirt at zero. It’s so dry and if it’s still, you can’t feel the cold. I’ve heard it does get still up here occasionally. Just a rumor though…😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Angus Under Setting Sun

Posted on

Pillars of the Sunset

Pillars of the Sunset
Pillars of the Sunset

Pillars of the Sunset Over the Grass Sea:

Here Lies within the ends of the great grass sea,

There seems no end to it’s lore and legend,

Forever an observer of history,

It witnessed things that will happen no more.

The snow covering the grass will disguise

those leaving tracks from the past

but is unable to eulogize when asked.

You leave and become part of days bygone

but the conclusion is foregone,

that your passing through these pillars

ending up as all of our past

Back but buried under the grass. (Frank Bliss 2019)

This is the time of year I get romantic with the past and all those that have come before us. This is the end of a decade yet again. This last decade saw numerous wondrous family and friends pass into that great grass sea. Each and every one of us has an unbroken connection to the very beginning of time on this planet.

However you construe the beginning, we all have that common connection. All of our ancestors threads connect to a common rope of a few individuals. Since that humble beginning, every one of our parents survived to reproduce successfully, culminating with us. Those “hardy” folks survived wars, famine, disease/ drought and they didn’t even have a 7/11 to pick up coffee at. They never had to look for their keys or cellphone….

I see clearly previous lives in the old homestead sites spread all around us. Vague names, a little speck of memory from an elderly one but the rest is lost to all but the grass sea. All of us end up spread upon or buried under the ground which gave us life to begin with. It’s the circle of life and it’s a real thing. It’s the end of the journey that only that ground has a memory in conclusion.

Our immortality is only guaranteed by what we do for others, not by who we actually are. This is a season of giving. Please do for others so as to live on past the time we have been given in this miraculous place.

Happy New Years Evening, God Bless from all of us at:

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (My last post of this decade )

Title: Pillars of the Sunset

Posted on

Oh Crap a Camera Lens

Oh Crap a Camera Lens
Oh Crap a Camera Lens

Oh Crap a Camera Lens If you had a “Crappy Old Year, this image is important. It’s going to get better after 😉

I’ve raised many parrots (I owned a pet shop in the 80’s). Working very closely with dozens of big birds before. I’ve been pooped on by the best. Big Birds Shoulder birds can really mess up a shirt … This meadowlark is not much different than those big birds but for it’s size. With this I’ve pretty much have all different obvious Meadowlark activities. Eating, sleeping, pooping and singing lolol. Most birds will do this move if they must right before they fly…

I’ve learned that all birds lift their tail and squat just a bit right before…. Note: If you have a parrot or other arm tamed bird on your arm, if the tail lifts, push it down with the other hand. They don’t/can’t “go” with the tail down. . So my timing only looks lucky. While this might be a bad example lol … anticipating a shot can save a lot of machine gunning with the camera. Storing photos is expensive if you do say 50 thousand 100 meg images some months.

Computer Tech Musings: So how do I keep track of and store that many 100 plus meg files? (How does a serious photographer deal with safe backups).

Finished photos are one thing (not as many of them). There are only a few thousand of those at 220 meg each lolol.. It’s The raw files streaming out of the 7 or 8 cameras I routinely use are huge files. There are also many. I like to keep the timeline so I have all the raw files for the last several years on demand. Older than a few years I have to connect external drives to the system.

I currently manage 50 TB of storage devices. Most storage drives I keep off line. All turned off to prevent any intrusion or loss. . I keep a monthly backup off site in a pile of 8 (currently) 4 TB SSD hard drives I keep adding finished work to. As they fill up, I add a new one to the pile and always have a pristine backup of the raw files and the they are kept in a fire safe.

Every image I finish is saved in three separate external hard drives as a last step. I’ve maintained professional graphic stations for 30 years. I’ve still got most of my graphics files available to me. Even those created decades ago available to me fairly quickly. Most of my old images, belonged to clients back in the day. Lots of them around. Can’t use them. But I’ve got a few of my own to work with

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Oh Crap a Camera Lens

Posted on

Four Wise Deer

Four Wise Deer
Four Wise Deer

Four Wise Deer (with apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).

The four came walking from far away.

Four Wise Deer out of the west were they

They traveled by twilight and slept by day

For their guide was a beautiful wonderful star.

And so these 4 four deer walked to the east,

through the dusk of night and yucca to tell.

Many thought the deer to be insane

Walking so far across the plain.

They saw the light in the stable

And they knew they were near

To a place where Christ was born that year

They saw the Three Wise Men and a child on the straw

They came up for a drink but left in awe.

Frank Bliss 2019

This is the last post for Christmas Day of 2019. I’m sure the deer in this image were born a bit more recently than 2019 years ago at the birth of Christ. If truth be known, they were in fact walking away from that “Drink” at one of our stock tanks. I often see this small group right at sunset walking away from a water tank we keep open all winter. It’s been so snowy that I haven’t gotten into the backcountry for weeks now.

I’m thinking at this point that I’m not going to get my new ride by Christmas. Ford apparently can’t deliver trucks on the schedule they told me they could.😟 I won’t belay the point but they could have done this better.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.. !

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Four Wise Deer

Posted on

Chicken Butt Hearts

Chicken Butt Hearts
Chicken Butt Hearts

Chicken Butt Hearts from my backyard bird buddies…

Christmas is a season of love ❤️❤️ and these Buff Orphington Hens above each wear their hearts on their butt. (mid-summer when the grass was growing, lush and green. I had just let them out and they were starting to free range…

Now chicken life is not all about love at least with the males that more or less have their way with the hens. Rules of the roost and all that…. This seems to work for them as a species as they are still around. Probably more because they taste good with BBQ hot wing sauce. Their may be other reasons. 🤔

I understand anecdotally that chickens are as close to T-rex dinosaur as any bird is. Dinosaur love as it were😜. If you add a tail, some size and some teeth, you will have a t-rex of sorts lol. Chickens are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders. They will certainly eat meat given the opportunity. I’ve seen it many times.

I am a BAD paleontologist that believes that Birds Are Dinosaurs (BAD). 🤔 There is a group of paleontologist that are BAND (Birds are Not Dinosaurs) but that group is dwindling rapidly. There are just FAR too many similarities reinforced by recent finds in China along with other observations indicating a direct lineage from “Avian” Dinosaurs to modern Avian species. At least that is my opinion having done dinosaurs a bit. Anyone that has had to deal with a wild male turkey, can testify that Birds are Dinosaurs.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Chicken Butt Hearts

Posted on

Fawn in the Grass

Fawn in the Grass
Fawn in the Grass

Fawn in the Grass

The wonderful scene is one of my game trail camera amazing capture. This fawn was jumping from place to place in the high grass. The automatic camera captured it dead center of the frame. Game Trail Cameras us Infra-red motion detection to trigger the shutter and like any automatic camera, will snap what is in front of them. Depending on the lighting, Game Trail Cameras can even take a good photo now and then. This is an amazing shot from one of the cantankerous things.

As I’ve said a few times before, each and every one has problems but this one is a pretty good capture. It took virtually no work to fix the built in image issues of the Game Trail camera. I get captures like this because 1: I run a lot of cameras with 29 currently in the network. 2: I place them in unusual places with viewpoints that are not just on a post at animal neck level. I often put cameras very low looking up or in places like this where it’s obvious by the trails that game frequents the area. Setting a camera up too high would resultsin the capture getting the tip of it’s ears. Properly setting it low in the spring just about promised me it would catch a fawn.

One of the few things you have control of with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them. I could write a chapter on placing game trail cameras.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Fawn in the Grass

Posted on

Checking Your Flight Plan

Checking Your Flight Plan
Checking Your Flight Plan

Checking Your Flight Plan

While Sharp Tailed Grouse don’t migrate, it’s always a good idea to check your directions. 🤗

I have SOOOO many of these guys hanging around it’s actually kind of humorous. I’ve lived here for 20 years with this year having the largest population of of the “Sharpies” I’ve ever seen. I watched a flock of at least 100 of these behemoths. I consider them flying boats. They don’t look to me like they should be able to fly but I’ve seen them glide at least a half mile before. I will get the flock on camera this winter. Snippits so far is the rule….

Deep Deep Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse don’t go along too well. They tend to say out of the powder as they sink in and have short legs lolol. They usually have to fly out of the hole they make for themselves by landing in a controlled crash. In this image, there is about 8 inches of snow next to our backyard fence. We see them in our compound all winter as they mooch grain off our ducks and Buff Orphington Chickens.

These Birds are known as the “fire grouse or fire bird” by native Americans. This is because they are reliant on natural brush fires to keep their habitat open. Their common name around here is “SHarpies” or certainly Sharp Tail. Uniquely American birds that survived the extinction at the end of the Ice Age. Geologically it is the last species of the Genus Tympanuchus. (Linnaeus named them AGAIN, boy was he busy) Apparently there are 7 subspecies one of which is extinct, the other 6 are extant. (extant versus extinct…. good to google if you don’t know).

Being one of the larger grouse, they are hard to sex visually. The males have yellow eye combs that are not conspicuous. During the spring they males puff up a pale violet air sacs on their neck. UP to 18 inches long (plump birds) In the early fall, Females Ring-necked Pheasants easily are mistaken for a female Sharpie. Watch for the length of the tail which the pheasant wins with the longer tail.

They really don’t exist south of Wyoming/northern Nebraska ranging WAY north into Alaska through out central and northwestern Canada. I’m thinking they like the snow but I might be wrong[ They are year round residents of the Wyotana borderlands but I understand the continental divide is a boundary too them and they really don’t live west of there in the the US. Western most Montana doesn’t have them apparently.

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Checking Your Flight Plan

Posted on

Perspective: Deer Hair Sunset

Perspective: Deer Hair Sunset
Perspective: Deer Hair Sunset

Perspective: Deer Hair Sunset

(Bowing my head and holding my hat over my heart) Here lies the last mortal remains of a predated backcountry deer. Just some simple tufts of hair spread about. I actually looked around quite a bit and for some distance in that area. Found one partial lower leg (calf) with hoof. It was hundreds of yards away from these scatterings of deer hide. I said a few words about the circle of nature and moved on knowing that nature is cruel. It is the renewal, the rebirth that is beautiful.

Close far perspectives are becoming a regular part of what I consider “working” with just about ever scene I look at these days. A really wide angle lens (10-12mm) along with high f-stop numbers in manual mode are necessary to do this kind of work. Knowing exactly what is in focus is best so knowing the characteristics of your lens is a good thing. I buy wide angle lenses based on their ability to focus really close to the lens but having a higher f-stop than f2-2 is highly desirable.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

(F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Perspective: Deer Hair Sunset

Posted on

Brace Yourself Sunset

Brace Yourself Sunset
Brace Yourself Sunset

Brace Yourself Sunset

As I travel the backcountry, I see opportunity in common objects. If I had uncommon things (huge mountains, monuments etc), I’d certainly photograph them. Regular Ranch objects are what I’ve got so I will work the common things looking for little areas of zen hidden among the other visual noise. My job is to catch isolated moments in time and space. There were an infinite number of places to observe this sunset, I chose to get down on my knees and look through this window. You’ve got to get to where the photos are after all lolol.

Tilt/Shift Lenses Musings:

Images as this, formally framed edge to edge, are precisely aligned. This was done in the camera. Holding the camera such and using a “tilt shift” lens to align the posts BACK to parallel.

This type of lens literally moves sideways/up and down on your camera incrementally. You can “Shift” the lens one way or the other moving the image across your cameras sensor. This allows the compensation of the normal curvature induced by a wide angle lens. Typically with just a regular wide angle the posts would be distorted pointing toward the middle, not parallel. Using the tilt/shift lens you can compensate for that distortion giving you perfectly straight lines. So the camera term for the day is “Tilt/Shift lens. They are expensive, rarely usable up here but I’m working more and more images into my work flow. Some adaptors that do the tilt/shit function are available for various applications. This type of lens is something you get into when your tired of wide angle shots when the trees all bend in toward the top center. Stay tuned for more applications of this optical technology.

Brace Yourself Sunset

Posted on

Corriente’ Calf’s Curious Eye

Corriente' Calf's Curious Eye
Corriente' Calf's Curious Eye

Corriente’ Calf’s Curious Eye

Hey Brown Eyes …. I always wonder what these guys are thinking. Humans are scary things to them but we provide food. Our vehicles show up and food magically appears to them. In the winter when the trucks feed the herd, the sound of the rig brings them trotting across the snowy prairie.

This is one of our calves born this year. It’s horns still pretty small, a month old baby. Adults will have pretty good sized horns for such a small beed of cattle. They definitely know how to use those horns. The breed routinely bully much larger Angus around with them.

The Spanish breed Corriente’ where first shipped to the America’s in 1493. The smaller breed was easier to transport, feed/ care for. They tough as heck athletes each and every one. Their meat contains about 1/2 the fat that our modern hybridized breeds. They require a lot less water adapting easily to sparse range. In other words, they pretty much take care of themselves. As a beef producer, your upfront costs are way lower. OF course these are sport cattle. Thusly we are not raising them for beef but as roping cows to train cowboys.

We’ve had Corriente’ for a decade. Their worst characteristic is that they go where they want. Doesn’t matter if there is a 4 wire barbed wire fence between them/where they want to go. They work their way through fences as if the barrier wasn’t there. Fortunately, they like it here. Hanging out by the water sources is the attraction. Water get’s scarce 3 miles out from our homestead. So they stick around mostly bulls excluded. Bulls go where their hormones tell them to. Since those bulls are small, no one want’s them to breed with a purebred Angus, you won’t get as much money lol.

Title: Corriente’ Calf’s Curious Eye